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Newsletter from MLA/Minister Katrine Conroy

Katrine Conroy
By Katrine Conroy
September 5th, 2023

As families prepare for their kids to begin or return to school next week, they may be feeling the pressure of back-to-school costs. I know that some people in our community are facing higher costs that are more difficult to afford, especially families with young children. I’m working with my colleagues in government to help make life more affordable for those who need it in B.C., which is why this week we were excited to share that we’re expanding our Child Care Fee Reduction Program so families with kids in school can benefit from these savings too!

Starting today, families with children in eligible half-day preschool and before- and after-school childcare will see their monthly fees drop by as much as $145 per child. This means for families about to send kids back to school, many can have more money in their pockets every month to help make life more affordable and help pay for things like school supplies, sports and extracurricular fees, and new clothes for growing, active kids!

This reduction for eligible childcare programs is in addition to other affordability measures for parents and families, like the Affordable Childcare Benefit, and our $10-a-Day Childcare program, as well as enhanced payments for Early Childhood Educators and childcare providers. With this new reduction, thousands more children will be able to get the care they need while their families will be more able to afford it on a monthly basis. Learn more about this initiative and participating providers here, and try out our child care savings estimator tool for families here!

We know that when families are supported to get the care that their children need, it’s easier for children to thrive, learn, and grow! I’m committed to working with our government team to continue to make life more affordable for British Columbians, like the families in our community who need it this back-to-school season.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Overdose Awareness Day August 31st. The Castlegar Community Connection Center had a well attended open house. If you are interested in Naloxone training, volunteering or donating please reach out to our office and we can get you in touch with people in your town who are actively creating a better understanding of drug toxicity, reducing stigma, and saving lives.

Minister’s statement on International Overdose Awareness Day
“The toxic drug crisis touches every corner of our province, affecting people from all walks of life. In the first five months of this year alone, over 1,000 people in B.C. were lost to poisoned drugs.”

Provincial health officer’s statement on International Overdose Awareness Day
“Almost seven people in B.C. are losing their lives daily to this unregulated, toxic-drug supply.  Especially troubling for me is the BC Coroners Service data that shows that overdoses are now the leading cause of death among youth. We are seeing evidence that many deaths are among those isolated and not engaging in care due to stigma and lack of safe pharmaceutical alternatives. As I have said previously, these deaths are preventable; we must all refocus our efforts.”

Expanding adult literacy programs throughout B.C.
Adults who improve their literacy and essential skills have more job opportunities and better health for themselves and their families. We’re expanding programs to help people level up these skills in communities across BC. These programs are delivered by trained volunteers and include one-on-one-tutoring and small-group classes.

Local news release: NDP MLAs Katrine Conroy and Brittny Anderson say expanded adult literacy programs will help people in the Kootenays build essential skills | New Democrat BC Government Caucus (bcndpcaucus.ca)

Public Accounts confirms investing in people builds stronger B.C.
Despite global uncertainty, B.C. ended fiscal 2022-23 with a surplus and higher-than-expected revenue that the province put to work helping people and communities with higher costs and growing needs. With high costs due to global inflation, we chose to make investments in people that help them now and in the long term. We provided support for every community, took action to improve critical services, lowered costs for people, and we were able to significantly reduce the provincial debt.

More grant recipients promoting BC Demographic Survey
More community and Indigenous groups are receiving grants to help their communities participate in the BC Demographic Survey. Nearly $100,000 has been awarded to 39 additional organizations including Kootenay Family Place to raise awareness and encourage more people to take the BC Demographic Survey. The data from the survey will be used to help identify where people are not getting equitable access to government services,  which will help us make those services more accessible and inclusive.

Thousands of new affordable homes coming for renters
The province is inviting non-profits, First Nations, municipalities and other organizations to submit proposals for the Building BC: Community Housing Fund (CHF). This new round of CHF funding will ensure more people have access to an affordable place to live by creating approximately 3,500 homes. The project proposals will be evaluated and projects totalling approximately 3,500 units are expected to be announced in early 2024.

Use caution, be fire safe this long weekend- BC Gov News

We’re urging people to use caution and remain vigilant this Labour Day long weekend as ongoing elevated drought conditions increase the potential for wildfires. If you are planning to travel in B.C., do so safely and avoid fire-affected communities. Most communities look forward to welcoming visitors back, but some are advising that now is still not a good time to visit. Please follow their guidance.

Have fun and be safe this long weekend.
– Check https://DriveBC.ca before you travel
– Follow local fire bans and restrictions at http://BCWildfire.ca
– Keep tabs on wildfire activity with the BC Wildfire Service app
– Report signs of a wildfire on the app or at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.
Learn more: https://news.gov.bc.ca/29457

Province extends state of emergency due to wildfire risk
With continued fire risk in many regions, and tens of thousands of people still under evacuation order and alert, the province is extending the provincial state of emergency until Sept. 14, 2023. Extending a state of emergency allows the province to make quick decisions that can save lives, such as travel restrictions.

Mental health supports available for people impacted by wildfire
Mental health supports are available for people who have been and continue to be adversely affected by historic wildfires throughout B.C. this summer. Many of those impacted are First Nations and Indigenous communities, who face additional stress and trauma due to historic displacements from their lands and homes. Disaster Psychological Support team members are currently deployed through the Provincial Health Services Authority’s Health Emergency Management BC program to reception centres in the Interior.

My community office is open Monday to Thursday 10-3pm during the summer months. Please call or email in advance to let Angelika or Sarah know when you are planning to come in so they can be ready in advance to assist you. If you have any questions or concerns about any provincial issue, or need assistance with a provincial body, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help. My office can be reached at 250-304-2783 or Katrine.Conroy.MLA@leg.bc.ca.

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Categories: Op/EdPolitics

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